“It might seem that the culture’s perennial strong woman would also be competent. But incompetent and superhero do not actually conflict in the context of essential notions about gender, race, class, and hierarchy.”
A personal essay by memoirist Dani Shapiro about discovering, accidentally through DNA testing, that the father she knew was not her biological parent. In the piece she advocates for the rights of children produced through assisted reproduction, after decades in which those of parents and donor prevailed, and children were kept in the dark about their true parentage.
Novelist Tayari Jones on the impossibility of the “middle ground” in a moral dilemma.
Why would a successful black woman leave the West Coast for her native Mississippi? Because Mississippi is America in all its racial violence, intergenerational trauma, leafy beauty and hope, and why run from a place you can remake together.
After 57 years, the world’s best-selling doll has a new body. Three new bodies, actually: petite, tall and curvy. Eliana Dockterman goes inside the Mattel branding machine to discuss what’s at stake for the company, and what their decision says about American beauty standards.
The families and survivors of the Charleston massacre share their stories and talk about faith and forgiveness.
The idea that the sex we see depicted on television should look or feel anything like what goes on in our own bedrooms is a very recent development. Eliana Dockterman looks at how TV sex got real.
Inside the quasi-legal science-free world of medical marijuana for kids.
Behind the scenes of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the debate over what policies and programs are effective when it comes to preventing suicide and saving lives in the U.S.:
“Studies done by Columbia University’s Dr. Madelyn Gould have found that about 12 percent of suicidal callers reported in a follow-up interview that talking to someone at the lifeline prevented them from harming or killing themselves. Almost half followed through with a counselor’s referral to seek emergency services or contacted mental health services, and about 80 percent of suicidal callers say in follow-up interviews that the lifeline has had something to do with keeping them alive.
“‘I don’t know if we’ll ever have solid evidence for what saves lives other than people saying they saved my life,’ says Draper. ‘It may be that the suicide rate could be higher if crisis lines weren’t in effect. I don’t know. All I can say is that what we’re hearing from callers is that this is having a real life-saving impact.'”
An investigation into the complicated and costly world of medical billing in the U.S.:
“Out of work for a year, Janice S. had no insurance. Among the hospital’s charges were three ‘TROPONIN I’ tests for $199.50 each. According to a National Institutes of Health website, a troponin test “measures the levels of certain proteins in the blood” whose release from the heart is a strong indicator of a heart attack. Some labs like to have the test done at intervals, so the fact that Janice S. got three of them is not necessarily an issue. The price is the problem. Stamford Hospital spokesman Scott Orstad told me that the $199.50 figure for the troponin test was taken from what he called the hospital’s chargemaster. The chargemaster, I learned, is every hospital’s internal price list. Decades ago it was a document the size of a phone book; now it’s a massive computer file, thousands of items long, maintained by every hospital.
“Stamford Hospital’s chargemaster assigns prices to everything, including Janice S.’s blood tests. It would seem to be an important document. However, I quickly found that although every hospital has a chargemaster, officials treat it as if it were an eccentric uncle living in the attic. Whenever I asked, they deflected all conversation away from it. They even argued that it is irrelevant. I soon found that they have good reason to hope that outsiders pay no attention to the chargemaster or the process that produces it. For there seems to be no process, no rationale, behind the core document that is the basis for hundreds of billions of dollars in health care bills.”